Characters Appearing: Black Panther, Jessica Lynne, Kevin Trublood, Lloyd Lynne, Monica Lynne, Roderick Tate, Spider-Man, Taku, Windeagle
Marvel Premiere #51-53
Issue(s): Marvel Premiere #51, Marvel Premiere #52, Marvel Premiere #53
To explain the fact that the Black Panther hasn't been following up on the Klan plotline, it's established that he's got some kind of amnesia. Monica Lynne and Kevin Trublood arrived in New York during Black Panther #14-15 and they've been waiting at the Wakandan embassy, but when the Panther sees them, he doesn't recognize them, even though his aide Taku does.
It could be argued that the amnesia explains Kirby's strangely different version of the Black Panther; years later Christopher Priest will pick up on the discrepancy between McGregor's Panther and Kirby's by introducing separate versions of the character.
A lot of issue #51 is actually a recap of the Jungle Action Panther vs. Klan story.
The Panther is also attacked by Windeagle from the Jungle Action series...
...but Windeagle is assassinated before Panther can get any information out of him.
Due to the recaps, aside from the revelation about Black Panther's amnesia and the death of Windeagle, there isn't a lot to issue #51. The plot begins in earnest with issue #52.
The Black Panther and Taku arrive at the police morgue to get some more details on Windeagle. The Panther confirms that his flying apparatus was stolen from Wakanda (same technology that was used on the Falcon's costume), and the police say that Windeagle was Hector Santiago, a son of Dominican immigrants that was in and out of the justice system until he was recruited by the Spiritual Light Society. It's said that it's "obvious" that the SLS and the Dragon Circle are one and the same. The Panther also learns that the rifle that was left behind at Windeagle's assassination was not actually the gun that killed him, and the Panther believes that there's a parallel between Windeagle's death and Monica Lynne's sister's. On their way home, the Panther says that he's started to regain his memories of the events in the Jungle Action series. Then they realize they're being followed, and the Wakandan driver (in a specially modified limo; whether it was his intention or not, Hannigan makes it possible to imagine that the Wakandans are actually utilizing their advanced technology for once. I also liked the use of the vibranium claws in the previous issues and even the mention of Windeagle's flying suit.) leads their followers to a construction site that is actually owned by Wakanda so that the Panther can deal with the pursuers.
The Panther manages to dispatch the attackers...
...aided by gunfire from Taku and the driver, M'Mari.
Monica even gets a kick in.
One attacker is left for questioning, but he is assassinated in the same way that Windeagle was. He does, however, have a Ku Klux Klan card on him.
The Panther later infiltrates a Klan rally...
...and hears that they are as much concerned about the completing Dragon Circle Cult, as they are their usual targets ("communists, hippies, and bleeding-heart do-gooders, as well as members of inferior races"). Reverend Mr. Addison, leader of the Dragon Circle, was formerly a high ranking member of the Klan. The Klan are under the impression that the Black Panther is working for the Circle, which explains why they've been attacking him.
The rally is then interrupted by the arrival of the Soul-Strangler, a demonic Klansman previously only seen in a story told by Monica Lynne's mother. This version seems to have dark skin.
The Panther manages to fight off the seemingly ghostly Soul-Strangler and then the Klansmen.
From all of that T'Challa decides that he thinks he knows who killed Monica's sister, and he returns to the South with Taku, Kevin, and Monica in a high tech floating bubble machine. Kevin declares that Monica's "my woman now".
Back in Georgia, T'Challa's memories come back to him while he's talking to Monica's father, Lloyd.
And even more memories surface when he goes to the local sheriff Tate (called Broderick instead of Roderick as in previous issues) to interrogate the owner of the rifle that was found at Windeagle's assassination (note also the continued reference to the Panther having precognitive powers).
It turns out that the Black Panther was defeated by Windeagle and then brought somewhere for brainwashing by the Dragon Circle. They failed to actually brainwash him into becoming their servant, but they were able to remove his memories of the events in Georgia.
Meanwhile, the Klan and the Dragon Circle are gearing up to fight each other.
I nearly fell out of my chair when i saw this scene, which has Lloyd Lynne as a member of the Circle.
I at first hoped he was a plant sent by the Black Panther (not that that would have been a good idea) but it seems like he was actually a member of the Circle all along. The Dragon Circle have been a multi-racial group from the beginning, but they were also definitely violent. We were first introduced to them as they attacked Monica Lynne and T'Challa, and then they later attacked the Lynne's house. So Lloyd's seeming surprise at the violence the Reverend is advocating doesn't make sense. And more to the point, Lloyd's character - a curmudgeon who just wanted to mind his own business and play solitaire - doesn't fit at all with this.
The Panther then saves Lloyd from some Dragon Circle assassins and then crazy stuff happens with some Klansman kidnapping the Reverend and the Panther chasing them through the swamps and everybody winding up in a 19th century plantation filled with slaves and the Soul-Strangler.
I had already given up at this point but in the end we see a newspaper saying that the cult leader was indicted for the murder of Monica's sister, so i guess that's a wrap (note also T'Challa referring to Kevin Trublood as Monica's future husband).
This is unfortunately all a cloodgey wrap up of the old Jungle Action series, with lots of information dumps. It doesn't seem rewarding to go back and compare how well it fits with what McGregor may have intended in his Jungle Action series; i gave up on that when i saw Lloyd Lynne in a Clan outfit. And the memory loss is obviously a very clunky way of explaining the gap between this and Jungle Action. A flashback ("oh yeah, i beat up Windeagle and he confessed that the Dragon Circle Clan was behind Monica's sister's death") might have been better; this solution almost seems designed to invalidate the Jack Kirby run. It's not really fair that this creative team was tasked with cleaning up this mess because i thought Hannigan did a decent job with the previous Klaw story, and i've learned to appreciate the Bingham/Day artwork here. But this story isn't much to read.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Begins soon after the end of Black Panther #15. If you squint closely at this Daily Bugle image, you'll see that P. Parker is credit with photography. That seemingly innocuous credit forced me to push all of these issues back about a year in publication time, since Peter was with the Daily Globe when these issues were published. I considered just pretending it was an erroneous credit, but what would be the fun in that?
This therefore must take place before Peter Parker is fired from the Daily Bugle in Amazing Spider-Man #193. I've listed Spider-Man as a character appearing, too, since he would have to have been behind the scenes in this story in order to take that picture. As Michael notes below, this same newspaper calls the Panther an ex-Avenger, placing this after Avengers #181.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
At about this time, Marvel announced plans to issue its first direct-only specials: X-Men, Avengers by Michelinie & Perez, and a Daredevil/Dracula team-up by Roger McKenzie, Frank Miller, and Klaus Janson. Unfortunately, none of that happened and DC's Superboy Spectacular became the first direct-only book from the big two.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 15, 2012 6:52 PM
T'Challa is listed as an ex-Avenger in that headline- doesn't that mean that this story takes place after Avengers 181?
Posted by: Michael | June 30, 2013 11:11 PM
Thanks for that catch. I was worried about the Scarlet Witch's appearance in Black Panther #14-15 conflicting with her departure after Avengers #182, but i've realized that she also appears in Cap #228 and Hulk Smash Avengers #2 before actually leaving, so it shouldn't be a problem.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 30, 2013 11:31 PM
What's this about Christopher Priest introducing separate versions of the panther? Did he just say Kirby's version was a different guy? Seems disrespectful...
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 1, 2013 3:42 PM
It's a little more complicated than that and i don't remember it exactly. I think what happens is that King Solomon's Frogs are used to pull a version of the Panther out of the timestream from during the Kirby run, and he's shown to be Kirby's carefree adventurer version, a very distinct personality from the version depicted elsewhere, but he's also suffering from brain trauma thanks to the abuse shown in flashback here. I'd like to read it again now that i've reviewed these issues but as i noted recently it'll be a while. ;-) Maybe someone else can confirm or elaborate.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 1, 2013 4:11 PM
This is unfortunately all a cloodgey wrap up.===FNORD12
Posted by: a.lloyd | January 28, 2016 6:00 AM
I see that this entry comes up on Google as the #5 hit for the word "cloodgey" and most of the others are tech/programming message boards. I guess the word means something similar to "cobbled together". It's something that works, but inelegantly.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 28, 2016 7:21 AM
It's usually spelled "kluge", or sometimes "kludge".
Posted by: Andrew | April 26, 2016 9:18 PM
Kudos to Shooter, Stern, Hannigan, & Bingham for seeing to it to tie up 3-yr-old loose ends to a story that couldn't sustain sales the first time around, supporting a twice-cancelled character with no intended new series following the MP run. I don't really see a commercial upside to having done that. The way it concludes is a total mess that should have been better given the time they had to do it, but it shows at least an editorial commitment to maintain the cohesion of the Marvel Universe even in its less prominent incidents. (Is there any lettercol evidence from the Kirby series asking for resolution to the Klan/Dragon Cult story?)
Posted by: Michael Grabowski | July 10, 2018 12:51 PM
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